February 21, 2002
School and Daycare
Question from Kitts Hill, Ohio, USA:
My seven year old daughter has diabetes, and her school would not cooperate with me in giving insulin, or administering glucagon so they threw her out of school, told me she wasn’t their problem anymore, and to take her elsewhere, but I made enough contacts to get her back in. I contacted the civil rights organization and started an investigation.
The school superintendent didn’t like it that I got them involved, and, in retaliation, called children’s services for what they call “medical neglect ” because she occasionally has high blood sugars). The reason they believe this is because they don’t understand type�1 diabetes and get confused with type�2. They claim she has high blood sugars sometimes, and say I am neglecting her. The nurse claims she’s trained, but doesn’t believe my that daughter is allowed to have waffles for breakfast. They claim this also because they think everything has to be sugarfree or she can’t have it. My daughter is carb counting, and takes Humalog.
Wouldn’t a hemoglobin A1c test, which she has every three months, solve their problem as to whether my child’s sugars are out of control? Her most recent one was 8.3%. Also the school has put so much stress on my daughter by getting children’s services involved, threatening to put her in foster care, that I think her high blood sugars are due to the stress.
What you need is more than this forum can provide. It seems that things have gotten way out of control.
First of all, if your child is in a public school system that receives Federal aid/support, they cannot discriminate against your daughter for having diabetes. Please contact your local American Diabetes Association and see The Law, Schools, and Your Child with Diabetes.
If your child is in private school, you have fewer options and leverage. I recognize that you have expectations of the school, and they have their agenda, as well. Perhaps you need a “mediator” of sorts since one presumes that the child’s best interests are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Perhaps you can engage the help of your daughter’s diabetes team to sit at a meeting with school officials, you, and others to outline a plan and share her diabetes regimen. Some diabetes centers will have a social worker to help you. Your local hospital may be able to help. Perhaps simply a letter from your child’s diabetes doctor, outlining a plan for school, is an easy solution.
In my experiences with similar situations, the school is reacting out of fear: fear that they do not know how to manage diabetes; fear that the child will get very ill, suddenly; fear that families will hold the school liable if an unforeseen event should occur. Education often is the key to finding common ground.
There are advocacy groups for you. I am not an attorney, but the ADA and a local children’s hospital and or diabetes team caring for your daughter are the places that I would start. If you do not have a pediatric diabetes team/endocrinologist, then please consider asking for a referral..
Additional comments from David S. Holtzman, Esq.:
I see two things here. First, contact the Ohio State Education Department at 644-6338. Ask for assistance from the school supervisory unit or the folks who assist parents with disabled children in complaints against their local school district. Be honest and open with them. I have found them very helpful in the past. Also, you need to find an attorney to assist you with the false report to the child protection authorities. Good luck!